Getting Help from Other Caregivers
Assisted Living Facilities continued...
Each time you visit, (surreptitiously) check Mom's skin for irritations that may lead to bedsores. Massages are not only a good way to prevent bedsores, but they also provide some great shared moments of intimacy.
Be your father's advocate. Let him know that you are there to fight for him at times when he can't fight for himself. Make sure he knows that you will always defend him and that you are always going to be there for him.
Get to know every member of the staff, and address them by their names. Let them know who you are. Before you address anyone on the staff, introduce yourself, even if you think they should know your name by now.
Keep notes on your visits. A history of specific complaints might come in handy down the road.
Don't dismiss complaints just because they sound absurd.
"Dad kept complaining about the snakes that were under his bed -- he could see them come running out every morning. I searched under the bed and even convinced him that there was poison under there, but the 'snakes' persisted. One morning I was helping him get breakfast, and Sylvia, who mops the floor every morning, came in and started mopping up around the bed. Dad went ballistic. 'There they are again!' he shouted. It was the mop, as it turned out. With Dad so groggy in the morning, I could now see how easily he was confused. I've asked Sylvia to hold off on releasing the 'snakes' until after Dad is up and dressed. It worked!"
If your parent has a favorite way of doing something, don't be shy about telling the staff, no matter how "silly" the routine might seem. A favorite cup, the company of a teddy bear, or a special way of saying goodnight can make life seem normal again for an older adult whose life has been uprooted.
If Dad objects and becomes dejected when your visit is over, know that he will most likely recover soon after you're gone. It may help your peace of mind to call later and ask a staff member how he is doing. While you're guiltily picturing Dad staring out a window, pining away for you, he's probably absorbed in a game or TV program.